Fangio Absolves Broncos CB Chris Harris, Jr. of Blame for Stefon Diggs' 54-Yard Touchdown
Cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. was played solid football this season. But on multiple occasions this season, the Denver Broncos' four-time Pro Bowler has played three-and-a-half quarters of good football only to suffer a lapse at some point in the clutch.
Those lapses come with a cost and they've factored into the four games the Broncos have now lost after leading in the fourth quarter. On the surface, it was no different for Harris on Sunday vs. the Minnesota Vikings. But drilling deeper, there's more to the story of what unfolded late in Week 11.
Protecting a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, Harris allowed Vikings WR Stefon Diggs to run right by him on a post route, which QB Kirk Cousins completed to the tune of a 54-yard touchdown strike that served as an emotional dagger to the Broncos. Harris threw up his hands as soon as Diggs hauled in the pass, ascribing blame to someone else who ostensibly should have been there to help in coverage.
However, we've seen that from Harris many times this season when he's been beaten. Following the Broncos' 27-23 collapse of a loss, we learned from head coach Vic Fangio that there was, in fact, a coverage breakdown on that 54-yard touchdown Harris relinquished in coverage.
"Yeah, there was supposed to be a safety in the middle of the field there," Fangio said. "He got out of position and when you do that against this type of team, when they get it rolling like that, that will kill you. And it killed us right there."
Based on the replay above, Kareem Jackson was the only safety in the vicinity of the Diggs catch. It stands to reason that the lapse falls on him.
Jackson did not get the depth in his coverage to give Harris' the help over the top the cornerback likely expected. Harris let Diggs run by him, figuring that he'd have bracket coverage with himself underneath and Jackson over the top.
But Jackson was baited to the opposite side of the field by the route run by the other outside receiver, Bisi Johnson. And the rest is history.
Harris is playing in a contract year. And with the losses continuing to mount for the Broncos, the ninth-year veteran might be losing patience with the brand of football being played in Denver right now.
Harris might be looking for a fresh football start in 2020 but that'll likely be influenced significantly by the level of interest he receives on the open market of NFL free agency.